Thursday, August 31, 2006

(quiz feature!) the correction line

I used to think I had a good sense of direction, but that was because I grew up in rural Iowa, where everything is laid out in a grid. The roads run straight north-south or east-west, and, generally, there is a road every mile. I was amazed when I moved to Indiana and then Wisconsin and learned that other rural areas did not do this, because of "hills" or "dairying" or whatever other excuses got in the way of rationality.

Anyway, the map above is the area where I grew up. The green arrow marks the Freese Family Farm. You can see the grid. But, if you look a couple miles south of where I grew up, you can see a road circled in red. And you can see that road is not like the others, because no north-south road crosses it. Instead, if you are driving south, you need to go east or west for a bit, and then you can head south again unperturbed for miles. The road is called "220th Street", but that's a convenience for implementing 911 service and no one actually calls it that. Instead, it is often referred to as the "Correction Line." Quiz feature, for which any Manson-area readers are ineligible: Why is this road called the Correction Line? First correct and appropriately charming answer gets one of the coveted JFW virtual kewpie dolls.

When I was home last week, I got to tease my much older brother when I realized that he didn't know why the Correction Line was called the Correction Line. "You were in the Navy, right?" "And, when you were in the Navy, you got to sail to all the way across the ocean, right?" "And, I've never been in the Navy, so correct me if I'm wrong about this, but when you sailed across the ocean there was never any issue of your ship, say, falling off the edge of the world?" "And, so, did you get a sense these that the world might be--I don't know, just to throw out one possibility--sort of roundish in shape?"

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

it also turns out i've been speaking prose all this time

I got a new computer for my office. Since I'm pleased with the dual monitor setup I have now, I didn't spring for new monitors, although when I started thinking about it when I saw that a fellow-fellow had one of those the monitors that you can twist and use a portrait orientation (so that the screen is taller than wide) instead of the normal landscape orientation. I was telling the computer person about my envy while he was setting up my new machine. He said, "Like this?" and reached over to my monitor and showed that I could have been turning mine to portrait orientation all this time as well.

I always forget how long it takes to set up a new computer. I can't decide if the time thus spent today should be counted as "useful, necessary labor" or "procrastination." Given deadlines and the relatively modest marginal value of increased computing power to completing the work needed for those deadlines, it would take heroic powers of rationalization not to classify it as "procrastination." As it happens, I possess just such powers, and, here I go, off to make sure my new computer has proper configurations of programs I'm not sure I've actually ever used on my old computer.

My new machine is "dual core," a technology I pretend in conversation to grasp but in fact do not and it frightens me. The CPU listed under system properties is 3.60 GHz, or 3,600 MHz. The Commodore VIC-20 on which I got my start with computers was 1 MHz.

Monday, August 28, 2006

(madison) still more evidence that the end of summer is at hand

I was wandering the halls of Wisconsin Sociology today and someone asked if I was going to be going to the reception tomorrow to meet the new graduate students. Instead, my plane will be landing in Boston about then. Still, I feel like I know the new students already. The department invites the new students to invite blurbs about themselves that are circulated before the semester begins to the other incoming students. This seems like a good bond-facilitating activity. More strangely, though, the department also collects all of these blurbs and distributes them to all the faculty. I mean, it's kind of fun to read what the new students' favorite ice cream flavors and television shows are, but I'm not sure if they are told beforehand that their blurbs are more broadly distributed than just to their peers. If anyone who reads this knows, let me know.

I think anything that helps graduate students get to know each other early is commendable. My graduate program had their orientation a full week before classes started, and I remember going to orientation and then spending the next week alone, wandering around in extreme humidity and convincing myself that I had made a horrible mistake with my life.

26 new students this year, one for each letter of the alphabet. Indeed, one is named Jay and another is named Elizabeth but says that she prefers to be called Zee, so maybe the others can claim the remaining 24 letters and the bulletin board of their photos can use a Scrabble Tile theme. (BTW: I wonder if the name Zee is properly pronounced "Zed" in Commonwealth countries.)

(manson, ia) flock together

dad with fake sheep and real ribbon

My father raised sheep for roughly six decades, but is now out of the business. For real. He got out of the business once before, but then secretly brought a few back, which resulted in a spell in which a regular feature of calls home to my mother was her saying bitterly, "I know he's got sheep out there. He's not fooling anyone."

We would show sheep at the Iowa State Fair. I have actually the night on the floor of the Iowa State Fair's sheep barn. (Being a bad sleeper, even as a kid, I'm not sure how much I slept in that barn. I've also gotten a horrendous case of food poisoning from a chili dog at the Iowa State Fair, which brought my chili dog eating career to a premature but permanent end.) Anyway, my father misses fair culture, and this year as a joke he slipped into the show ring carrying a stuffed sheep. The judges gave him an honorable mention ribbon.

My father told me this story within fifteen minutes of my arrival Thursday night. He told it several more times the next couple days. He was clearly very pleased with himself. My mother seemed more of the view that this was Another Embarrassing Thing Dad Had Done. A few years ago I probably would have at least tacitly concurred with her. This year, I said affably that she should give Dad a break. I've become more X of my dad in recent years, where X is some word that is neither "sympathetic" nor "appreciative," but does contain a combination of those sentiments, as well as some others.

As it turns out, we still do have sheep. My father has borrowed maybe twenty head from a farmer friend to graze our land. I haven't done livestock judging since back when I was in 4-H, but they seem a rather homely herd:


Saturday, August 26, 2006

(manson, ia) rousted!

(photo from yesterday's drive around town)

Last night after completing my previous post, I sat and did e-mail for awhile. Then the town police car drove by, turned around, and pulled up beside me. The officer--who was not one of my three cousins who are police officers in the county--looked like he was maybe thirty or so and had a shaved head. I rolled down my window.

"Hello there. What are you up to?"
"I'm working on my computer."
"Well, I saw your out of state plates."
"I'm from here. I'm back for a family reunion."
"Yeah, summer."
"You know, I don't recognize you. How long have you been working here?"
"Eight years."
"Eight years? What's your name?"
"Oh, I remember you. I'm Jeremy Freese. I was a couple years ahead of your [brother's name]. What year did you graduate?"
"I graduated in '89. What's [brother's name] doing?"
""He's in [town]. He works at the [business]. Your car's been here awhile."
"Well, I was trying to work in the park, but then these kids came through throwing rocks."
"Did they throw rocks at you?"
"No, but I decided not to wait around and see."
"Yeah, I just had to tell those kids to go home. The big one is eighteen years old, can you believe that?"
"He needs to find some friends his own age."
"He can get into a lot more trouble than those other kids can."
"I'll say. Anyway, I was just finishing up and then I was going to head on home."
"Okay, well, you have a good night."
"You too. Hey, say hi to [name] for me when you see him."

Nice guy. I can't imagine being a police officer here for eight years, though. All those times driving over the same few streets. I would stop and talk to everyone I saw hanging around with out of state plates as well. (Of course, said out-of-staters are especially suspicious when they are typing away on their computers in their car in the library parking lot at 11:30pm.)

(manson, ia) dispatch from darkness

gazebo office (day)
(me, in the gazebo, today)

gazebo office (night)
(me, in the gazebo, tonight)

I am writing this from the gazebo in the middle of the park in the middle of town, which I seem to have made my office for this trip. It's like 11pm and I am being eaten alive by mosquitos, all for the sake of e-mail and blogging.

A kid who lookd like he was in fourth grade or so just ran up to me from a house half a block away."Who are you?" the kid asked.
"Who are you?" I replied.
"Who are you?"
"Who are you?"
Then the kid ran away.

Update, five minutes later:
Turns out I had to post this in haste because the kid was part of a group of older kids who were engaged in some kind of nighttime rock fight that began moving toward the gazebo at a speed at which I was uncomfortable. So now I am doing this update from my car. I suppose one of the kids could hit my car with a rock. If so, I will drive across the park grass and run him down. I would have never said something like that a year ago, but living in the city and on the East Coast: it toughens a boy up.

Friday, August 25, 2006

(manson, ia) is this heaven? no, heaven all has the same owner.

in the cornfield at the field of dreams
(me, in the same cornfield where the ghosts emerged from in Field of Dreams)

Three prominent items on any list of good things about having a blog would be:

1. I have met people I wouldn't otherwise have met. (in the Madison airport, I ran into Tom Bozzo, Susanne, and their always-astonishingly-adorable children.)
2. It's contributed to me having more contact with people I wouldn't otherwise have any/as much contact with (such as when someone I've lost touch with runs across my blog and e-mails me, which has happened at least a couple dozen times by this point).
3. It's led me to do things I wouldn't otherwise have taken the time to do.

As for #3, when I was driving from Madison to Manson yesterday, I saw myself approaching the turn for Dyersville, where Field of Dreams was filmed. I've always felt like this was something that it was my state-riotic duty as an Iowan to visit. Plus, it was a gorgeous day outside. Truthfully, though, the decisive thing was me thinking: "I can take some pictures for my blog."

I don't know if you know much about baseball diamonds, but they are like a giant square divided into four quadrants. The lower right quandrant has the infield, where most of the action takes place. The other three quadrants are the outfield, which is just green space. The reason this is relevant is that the field of Field of Dreams was actually built across two families' properties, who have developed "uneasy" relationship with one another. As a result, the Field of Dreams is technically two separate sites, "The Original Field of Dreams Movie Site", which encompasses the infield and right field (and the house by the field), and "Left and Center Field of Dreams," which encompasses left and center field.

competing signs to entrance of field of dreams

Fortunately, both parties realize their interests are better serve by not having any "uneasiness" alter the actual field, which is preserved. (Or, at least preserved except for people who trace their initial with their heel by home plate, but such people smooth the gravel over again before leaving.)

home plate

(manson, ia) could one hypothetically find unsecured wireless in jeremy's hometown?

(this would have been such a great photo had it turned out. right there on the gravel road in front of me as I was driving home: a deer.)

Yes. Don't think just because it's a town of ~1850 in the middle of nowhere in Iowa that it's completely backwards. One does hypothetically feel a bit more conspicuous about parking one's car and availing oneself after finding a signal, however, than one hypothetically feels in a larger municipality. Especially if one is hypothetically typing away right in front of the police station.

The Cambridge to Madison to Manson trip was long but fine. I've already told the family there's no way I'm making this trip again at XMas; it's too far to make at a time when it is only going to be daylight a few hours anyway.

As predicted, Mom's first statements upon my arrival were to (1) comment about my weight (this time, calling me "skinnybutt") and (2) asking me if I wanted anything to eat.

Also, thanks for recommending Sarah Vowell's Partly Cloudy Patriot for the drive. I listened to it and not only thought it was hilarious, but decided that Sarah Vowell will one day be mine. (Good to have that settled, especially so now I'll have a ready answer if anyone at the family reunion asks if I'm getting married. "As soon as I convince her," will be my response, omitting details about my first needing to meet her and, for all I know, break up existing marriages and/or change existing sexual orientations.)

Anyway, more later.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

a-wandering out on the hills of iowa

Tomorrow (or, I guess, today): get up, pack, stop at office, take subway to airport, fly to Madison, have Sal pick me up, lunch with Sal, buy audiobook(s) at Borders, drive across the prairie to the Freese Family Farm. The Farm now has broadband Internet, so presumably I will be blogging away.

My surviving siblings and I will all be there; the first time all of us have been in the same place at once in awhile. I am looking forward to going back home to visit, although after that I am looking forward to coming back to Cambridge and focusing hard on getting into a routine.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

chaucer reviews snakes on a plane

Here. The money line: "That ys ynogh. I haue hadde it wyth thes cursed by Seynt George snakes on this cursed by Seynt George shippe!"

coming soon: google blackmail

I have a friend for whom Internet privacy is very important. Like he explained to me how I should make up an alternate birthday--that does not share digits with my actual birthday--and give that to companies instead of my actual birthday. I've always regarded this as a little paranoid. Then I started reading the story of AOL making publicly available search results for a three-month window, changing usernames to identifying numbers to "protect privacy," apparently without realizing that people give a lot about themselves away with three months of search results. The site AOLstalker lets you look through other people's searches, although I believe they are redacting directly identifying personal information (whether for mercy- or legal-based reasons, I don't know). Here are selected actual searches for March through May by User #672368:
2006-03-01 18:54:10 body fat calliper
2006-03-05 08:53:23 curb morning sickness
2006-03-09 18:49:37 get fit while pregnant
2006-03-11 03:52:58 you're pregnant he doesn't want the baby
2006-03-11 04:05:24 online degrees theology
2006-03-11 04:13:33 online christian colleges
2006-03-11 22:09:50 why use a nightstand
2006-03-12 09:38:02 foods to eat when pregnant
2006-03-14 19:11:28 baby names and meanings
2006-03-23 10:20:04 physician search
2006-03-27 20:04:09 best spa vacation deals
2006-03-28 09:28:25 maternity clothes
2006-03-28 10:49:09 pottery barn furniture outlet
2006-03-29 10:01:39 pregnancy workout videos
2006-03-29 10:12:38 buns of steel video
2006-03-29 12:33:42 yoga and christianity
2006-04-01 13:22:40 lane bryant
2006-04-17 11:00:02 abortion clinics charlotte nc
2006-04-17 21:14:19 can christians be forgiven for abortion
2006-04-17 22:22:07 roe vs. wade
2006-04-18 06:50:34 effects of abortion on fibroids
2006-04-18 06:55:57 effects of fibroids on abortion
2006-04-18 15:14:03 abortion clinic charlotte
2006-04-18 16:14:07 symptoms of miscarriage
2006-04-20 16:56:53 esteem vitamins
2006-04-20 16:58:37 engagement rings
2006-04-20 17:53:49 high risk abortions
2006-04-24 17:15:05 new homes charlotte nc
2006-04-25 15:55:48 ethan allen
2006-04-26 19:37:34 wedding gown styles
2006-05-06 21:22:18
2006-05-22 18:17:53 recover after miscarriage
2006-05-24 16:28:31 combat uterine fibroids
2006-05-26 19:55:55 demetrios bridesmaid dresses
2006-05-27 07:25:45 marry your live-in
2006-05-31 11:54:14 juice fasting
2006-05-31 13:30:07 family specialist hospital
Thank God I have never gotten myself mixed up with AOL. The idea that there is someone out there who could call up the history of my Google searches now completely freaks me out. And, yet, at the same time, it makes me want to apply for a job at Google where I could do some kind of "sociological analysis" that would allow me to spend days on end reading the history of other people's Google searches. It's an interesting suspense-novel-plot idea to imagine somebody with access to the innards of Google using the search results to blackmail government officials for some sinister end.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

a sandle in the wind

(my new sandals. they bring me no joy.)

There are basically two impulses that propel me to act in life. The first is a desire to be different from other people. The second is a desire to be normal.

The latter has led to radical reforms on the foot front. When I instituted my All Argyles policy in the fall--a move toward dress-sock-consistency pundits lauded as many years overdue--it didn't occur to me what to do when summer arrived and I would be wearing shorts. While many believe I should not be wearing shorts at all ever (too old, too hairy, too unrelentingly mortal and mammalian), this option was not seriously contemplated. Even so, it's been plain I've needed to do something about the socks/shoes combinations I've been wearing. Even kindly folks who never say a bad word about anything speak smack about my socks. As the saying goes: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, unless we're talking about Jeremy and his footwear, in which case craft your words to wound."

I don't normally spend much time attending to what other people are wearing, and certainly not to their feet. I do know people who judge the whole of people's character by their footwear. I have prided myself on not being one of those people. I have also prided myself on not caring about those judgments of those people, until I realized that such people were far more widespread than I anticipated and that my indifference to their opinion could be causing no end of professional, personal, and possibly cosmic-spiritual harm. Truly, folks, I didn't realize I was sporting a crime against humanity on my feet.

Upon careful study the feet of other men, it became plain that someone in my current general life demographic should be wearing sandals. I've never owned sandals. Sandals are not common for men in rural Iowa. I didn't really want to start wearing sandals. Last week I bought a pair of sandals. I would like to say that I am not wearing these sandals under social duress, because that makes me sound like such a wimp. I am wearing these sandals under social duress.

Here I am, wearing sandals. Am I OK now? I mean, I still don't know how to use chopsticks, and I get into cars this weird way that other people have trouble even imitating well enough to mock.

I've heard my sandals will be comfortable once I've broken them in. A woman told me this as she eagerly showed me the scars on her feet from breaking sandals in. The big toe on my right foot is bleeding. I paid $80 so my big toe could hurt and bleed and my feet could make an annoying squeaking noise when I walk. At least sandals are easy to remove, so I can walk around my office barefoot now. I paid $80 for bare feet.

Monday, August 21, 2006

(briefly reviewed) snakes on a plane

soap promo
(from the special promotional safety guide Brady got for me at an event in LA)

I was expecting to be a little disappointed. I was not. My only disappointment was waiting until Sunday to see it.

The largest cheer from the crowd came of course with the part known to be added in response to an Internet campaign, where Samuel L. Jackson says "I want these m**f** snakes off this m**f** plane." As far as I could tell, they shot those three seconds outdoors--maybe in a parking lot--and then spliced it into a scene where he's supposed to be saying it on a plane. As if the director was saying, "Look, we all know the only reason this line is in the movie is because YOU asked for it, and you'll think it's even funnier if we abandon all pretense when we splice it in."

why clind the cow if you can get the milk for free?

Today I had occasion to look in the thesaurus for synonyms for "love." I wasn't looking for part of the "love" entry that would have synonyms for "have sex," but I was surprised by what was listed there:

Grass? Shine? Press? Grass? Grass?!

Meanwhile, I haven't seen the words "cosset" and "dandle" in a long time, and in both cases I would think of them as more something one does to a puppy than a paramour.* I'm not sure I've ever seen the word "clind." I enter "clind" into Google and it keeps asking me if I really mean "blind," which is something I've heard people say love is, as opposed to "clind."

* Although for all I know this is a boundary being actively explored by some anthropocentrism-fighting pioneers within the ASA Animals & Society section.

radio killed the video star

The "efficient destiny" theory in economics includes among its predictions that only unattractive people will end up in radio in a world that also includes TV. This part of the theory has recently received its death blow, however, as the ever-incandescent Tonya has started doing radio. I am trying to figure out how to finagle my way into a guest spot onto her show. Anyone who has ideas for show topics on which I can be a suitable guest--keep in mind, I'm willing to make stuff up and pretend to be someone else if that's what it takes--should let me know.

Meanwhile, the "Second Law of Thermodorotha" states that Dorotha at rest tends to stay at rest. In defiance of physicists and nanotechnicians worldwide, however, Dorotha has recently started a real, live, stay-there-for-prescheduled-hours full-time job (which, it bears admitting, is something the proprietor of this blog has never done). What's more, she appears to be enjoying it: she was spotted this weekend handing out balloons for her job by someone who reported that she looked "together" and even, hold on to your monitors, "happy." Which itself is further evidence for a different theory that has always seemed to me like a supernatural belief but yet has also received empirical confirmation over and over again: on the whole, things tend to work out.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

the other planets are grumbling that they knew this was going to happen when the dean appointed uranus to be chair

I keep thinking that Pluto is sort of like what people say about tenure, which is once you let that first iffy entity into the club, then you have a precedent and later things that come along get compared to whether it meets the same standard as Pluto as opposed to whether it seems planet-worthy in its own right. I certainly know people who have started at new jobs and looked up the most marginal successful tenure case on the books so they could tell themselves, "Okay, so long as I'm as accomplished as this person, either I've got a job for life or decent grounds for a lawsuit."

Since planets can't sue, they could have just kicked Pluto out of the club. One thing that especially annoys me about these new planets is they screw up the mnemonics. Back when I was a boy, you learned "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas," and you were good to go on the order so long as the first-letter hint was equivalent. Kick Pluto out, and you could just change "Nine Pizzas" to "Noodles" or "Nectarines" and all was well in the universe.

Now any suitable mnemonic sentence is longer, and I'm not even sure what you are supposed to do with the Pluto/Charon double planet. Maybe a sentence that has PC as its penultimate word, but try figuring out how to follow that with a word starting with X, if this other planet really does end up being called Xena.*

Boston/Cambridge has a to-scale model of the solar system around the city. Mars is in the mall where Kathryn and I went shopping last weekend. I'd seen Mercury and Venus before at the Science Museum. I don't remember where the 11-foot wide sun is on display, although obviously it has to be nearby. Pluto is at the Riverside T stop, where I've actually been, but didn't know to look for the planet at the time. I could see where this could be a good weekend photoblogging expedition, but I have work to do and still haven't figured out when/how I'm going to see Snakes on a Plane.

* BTW, JFW readers will remember this spring I was assigned to write a 26-sentence story where each word began with a different letter of the alphabet, so I'm recently familiar with the task of accommodating X demands.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I know a little bit too much about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. I've also followed the latest developments with an arrest and confession in the case a little bit too closely. Sure, I love mysteries, but I'm usually not one for avidly following high-profile homicides. Instead, from the beginning, I've felt a special connection to the Ramsey case.

This is because, possibly unlike the man now under arrest, I was actually in Colorado when JonBenet Ramsey was killed. 1996 being the only Xmas I have not spent either on the farm or in whatever state I happened to be living at the time. I was visiting a friend, and I remember us both seeing the Denver Post story about a murder in Boulder. I said this was going to be a huge national story. My friend said I was overreacting and that it would make tabloid-TV shows but not be bigger than this. So, every time there's been a major news story about the case, it's like there's a personal sidebar to the story saying, "Hey, Jeremy, remember that time you were So Totally Right?"

Of course, I've also thought the whole time that some combination of insiders were responsible. I've never been able to get past the weird ransom note, with its request for $118,000 and "Victory! S.B.T.C." closing. So, if the man who confessed turned out to be guilty, the sidebar will change to "Hey, Jeremy, remember that time you were So Totally Right about that thing about which you were ultimately So Totally Wrong," which doesn't have quite the same ring to it. The current story is that despite the various pecularities of the statements of the man who confessed, he has provided details about the body that were not publicly known. Still, my reaction is not to believe it until more convincing information is made available.

Friday, August 18, 2006

so, how did your talks in montreal go?

(photo by eszter-the-super-presider during my first talk)

I ended up only getting two hours of sleep before my back-to-back ASA talks last Friday. The first went all right, and, unlike one of the other members of my session, I didn't have the interesting distraction during my talk of a relatively-prominent-for-his-area sociologist using the occasion of my speaking to walk down the aisles handing out advertisements for a book he'd written.

The second talk went less well because of some AV problems that knocked me out of my comfort zone and into my far less engaging, um-ful zone. The problem was that I offered my computer to everyone to use during the session, but then I stepped out to use the restroom before the session began. Never leave your laptop alone in the hands of strangers. I came back to see them fiddling with my computer, and soon thereafter my screen turned blue with an error message that I had never seen before. Most of the two talks before mine were spent trying to get my machine to successfully reboot, which took three tries, during which I was planning the histrionic apology I would have needed to deliver to my collaborator had I been unable to present.

I was also the presider over a session the last day of the conference. I get anxious when I am the presider because I do not want to be one of those presiders who mismanages time in their session and ends up running long or cheating the last speaker out of time. Eszter is such a disciplinarian about this that she actually brought pre-printed signs to her session to show to speakers when they had 5 minutes and 2 minutes left. Me, I was glad there were napkins on the panel's table:

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

dispatch from kittery, me

kittery, maine
(me, posting from my car in Maine)

So, after driving with me to and fro Montreal, my friend Kathryn stayed an extra day with me in Cambridge today. Tonight we went and saw the road-trip movie Little Miss Sunshine (thumbs up, although not uppity-up). After it was done, I asked Kathryn what we should do next. Her answer: "Drive to Maine and post to your blog!" And, lo, here we are, in a hotel parking lot maybe two miles over the state line.

Despite all her previous good sportitude, Kathryn is now telling me to "hurry the [expletive deleted] up" so she can get a decent night's sleep before her early-morning flight back to Chapel Hill, where she will be going directly from the airport to serve as witness for a friend's small-claims suit against his wedding caterer. I was trying to tell Kathryn earlier that the idea of someone trying to prevent a witness from testifying provides the animating premise for Snakes on a Plane (only three days away!), but she thinks it more likely the caterer would try to poison her by serving up substandard grits in coach class.

so, how was 'deconstructing playing with Katie'?

(See earlier post about DPwK here.)

I did not go to DPwK, and in fact scheduled something for that time deliberately so I would not be tempted to go to it, as nothing good could come of my attendance.

I did, however, talk to two people, each of whom had a attended a different one of the two sessions of the Animals & Society Section. They both offered substantially the same report: the presenters split roughly evenly into (1) people doing work that my correspondents regarded as embarrassing and (2) people who looked embarrassed at being stuck on the same panel as these people.

The guy doing the "Oppressed Cows" talk apparently did indeed use finger-quotes whenever he said the word "beef" and started his talk by talking about how he was a convert to the view that meat is murder and would no longer dine with anyone who ate meat. The woman after him--who did a talk about dogpark culture that my correspondent thought was good and interesting--is reported to have started her presentation by looking irritated and saying something like, "Just for the record, I eat meat." I wonder if on the future people whose talks are put on Animals and Society panels but disagree with the ideology of its more strident participants will nibble openly on beef jerky during the sessions as a way of disaffiliating themselves.

Monday, August 14, 2006

dispatch from burlington

burlington, vt
(me, trying to find a wireless connection in a parking lot in burlington, vermont)

This post is being dictated to Kathryn as we drive around Burlington, Vermont, looking for wireless (and maybe the coat factory). More later (and maybe from Maine).

Not from Maine, as it turns out. We didn't make good enough time on the drive through Vermont to justify the detour, especially when I realized it would take us more out of the way than what it looked like from our poorly-printed Mapquest map.

Updated States From Which I've Blogged, included for personal reference even though the list has been recently cited elsewhere as a blogger self-indulgently providing Information No One Else Cares About:

MissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew Jersey
New MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahoma
OregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennessee
TexasUtahVermontVirginiaWashingtonWashington, D.C.
West VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Thursday, August 10, 2006

dispatch from montreal

(movie poster at Montreal subway station)

"I can't believe there isn't even WiFi in the rooms, and you have to pay $12 a day for a cable connection. This is so like the French."
"You know Quebec is actually, um, Canada."
"We wouldn't be getting this kind of crappy service if DeGaulle was still in charge here, I can tell you that."

Perhaps to allay the high price of Internet service here in Montreal, the American Sociological Association has set up a bank of computers in the convention center that allow you to access the Internet more generally in addition to the ASA messaging service. I clicked on the "Access Internet" link, and then in the URL bar typed "" with the idea of perhaps checking my GMail account. Immediately GMail opened with the inbox of whomever had apparently had the idea of checking their GMail there before me. I decided I could wait until I was in my hotel room.

I'm sitting here working on my two presentations tomorrow and slurping a 7UP that I got out of the minibar. I would have preferred to save money and just get something out of a vending machine, but to get to vending machines in my hotel you have to take the elevator to the lobby, switch to another elevator, take that down to Level B, go down three flights of stairs, and there the machines are, in the underground parking garage. If you do make the trip, I would recommend realizing before you get down there that the machines will expect you to have Canadian currency.

All that said, earlier this evening I was having a drink with a friend--one met through blogging, no less--and we both agreed that we love ASAs.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

dispatch from lebanon

(me, on the grounds of phillips academy, andover)

lebanon, nh
(me, writing this post)

So here I am in Lebanon, NH with Kathryn on our way to the ASA meetings in Montreal. The main reason for this post is allowing me to cross New Hampshire off the list of states from which I've blogged.

Within five minutes of meeting me in Harvard Square today--a meeting at which, it goes without saying, I was wearing shorts--Kathryn announced that "most people believe adults should not wear shorts except on vacation, running, or mowing the lawn." I said I would canvass my blog for opinions on the subject. Opinions on the subject?

On our way here, Kathryn and I stopped by Phillips Academy Andover, where Kathryn went to high school, as did George W. Bush, John F. Kennedy Jr, and the Kerry daughters. We toured the campus and it was much different than the placebo school that desiccated my mind for four years in rural Iowa. Kathryn says, if she could choose to be any age again, she would choose to be fifteen, just so she could go to Andover again. By coincidence, I would also choose to be fifteen again, if I could to Andover, or at least to any high school where increasing the diversity of extracurricular activities did not mean just adding another sport.

Kathryn just asked me how many sports they offered at my high school. "Not as many as at Andover," I replied. "You could say that about pretty much anything," she said, "except for maybe meth addicts." "Did Andover have a Future Farmers of America chapter?" "No. But John Deere sent his son there."

further evidence that right now is the most awesomely awesome time to be alive in the history of humankind

In my Inbox this evening:
Hello, Jeremy.

My name is Jamie Gaines, and I run a site called As you might guess, the site is dedicated to pictures of people doing the robot.

I came across your picture here....

from the blog post at

and thought it would be perfect for the site. Would you mind if I post it?

The site is purely for goofy fun, and no pressure if you'd rather me not post it. I just thought I'd ask.


Jamie Gaines
For those unfamiliar with the ways of Madison Sociology karaoke, the most frequently yelled phrase at the performer--since "Get off the stage, Jeremy" is, technically speaking, usually yelled at someone who is not the official performer at the time--is "Do the Robot!" There are only two other recurrent dance-demands, "Do the Breadmaker!" and "Do the Gecko!," and these are a distant second and third. Specific variants of the robot are sometimes called for, like "Do the Pregnant Teenage Robot!" during Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" and "Do the Robot on the Second Floor!" during Suzanne Vega's "Luka."

Anyway, my response:
Sure, so long as you don't mind your e-mail appearing on my blog.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


"Are you really thinking about getting a dog? You should totally get a dog!"
"What I really want is for them to breed a dog that will only die of neglect if that neglect is ill-intentioned."
"You should totally get a plant! Or, maybe just some photos of plants."

Monday, August 07, 2006


I just signed up for the Boston Half Marathon on October 8. This is the first time I have signed up for anything like this by myself. If there is anyone else reading this in the Boston area who is in for 13 miles of fun, let me know.

For that matter, I'm doing the 5 mile Race For The Cure on September 10. While I signed up believing I was running for the band responsible for "The Love Cats," turns out I'm running for breast cancer, which is ok too, so long as I get to still wear Cure makeup and do up my hair.

Sal and I were earlier thwarted by sold-out registrations from signing up for either the Chicago or Twin Cities marathons this fall. Now, because it looks like we will be in Dallas for the gerontology meetings the weekend before Thanksgiving, we are considering the possibility of running in Tulsa on November 19.

All this talk about running should be backed up by actual, you know, training. I did not run while I was in Madison. Worse, I think I screwed up my back somehow, and so, while I went out this morning with boundless enthusiasm, I didn't make it very far.

valuable information about your stay

This week I am going to the Annual Meetings of the American Sociological Association. I just got an e-mail from my hotel with the subject line "Valuable Information About Your Stay." Turns out the most valuable piece of information was on the ASA website all along, but I didn't bother to look at it. The conference activities are taking place at the Convention Centre. My hotel--which is an official conference hotel and which I decided to stay at because a friend said he was staying there--is #5 on the map. Not that I can't deal with the walk, but it's going to be a pain to getting to things on time. ASA is usually held primarily in a couple hotels with the conference in the rooms of those hotels, which is great because then it makes it easy to run into people during the course of your day. The set up for this ASA is going to make it much harder to run into people, and the ability to coordinate things by phone is made more difficult by cross-border cel phone compatibility (e.g., mine will work, but cost 70 cents a minute, including to check e-mail from it).

In Quebec, the street signs say "Rue" instead of "Street." Rue is right.

(I am excited to be going to Montreal, don't get me wrong.)

Friday, August 04, 2006


"I did the most incredibly stupid thing with my [finances]"
"I can't tell you. I'm too embarrassed."
"No. Seriously. I am too embarrassed."
"What, is it like-- is it like something I would do?"
(pause) "It is, actually."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

(madison) while there are no plans most certainly no plans to turn my blog into a gratitude journal, still:

drake, me, tablet, baron

Sal and Julieta's dogs: generous with their affection
Sal and Julieta themselves: generous with their yogurt and granola
Jeremy: basking in the abovementioned generosity. Life is good. To repeat: Life is good.

Unrelatedly, recently Gwen said about her mother:
I can complain about my momma, but should you agree with me too enthusiastically, I will immediately turn on you and will defend her for the exact thing I was just bitching about, and will never quite forgive you for the offense.
I identified with this, although of course not with reference to my own momma, as I never complain about her (my mother is my hero). Rather, what goes for Gwen and "momma," goes for Jeremy and "sociology," if especially if the person joining in my complaint is outside the discipline. One obvious fact is that my social network is stocked full of sociologists whom I absolutely adore and respect. Beyond that, though, another fact is that sociology has been very good to and for me, and this I would perhaps do well remind myself of more often.

(madison) c thru

One commonly-used word of my academic vocabulary is "transparent," as in "I would prefer if the author made the details of the coding scheme used in the manuscript more transparent." A colleague of mine in his sixties heard a similar usage of "transparent" today and said, "You know, I keep wondering how it came to be that people use 'transparent' for that. When I was younger, people would say the same thing and instead say 'visible' instead of transparent." Especially intriguing because, of course, visible and transparent are quasi-acronyms, and, at least when the sentence includes "details of the" as above, it's a pretty easy argument that visible is the more straightforward metaphor.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

dispatch from madison

shih tzu magazine snip 1shih tzu magazine snip 3
(images from one of Sal's Shih Tzu magazines)

I am in Madison. The name Salvador, it turns out, translates alternatively as "savior" or "picks Jeremy up late from the airport." Madison's airport has been recently renovated with a Frank Lloyd Wright theme, and I have to say that, given the extra opportunity to tour the airport facilities and grounds, however, I do have to say I think the airport people deserve props (pun! ha!) for doing such a stylish job.

I am staying at Sal and Julieta's. The name Jeremy, it turns out, translates alternatively as "the kind of chowderhead who will call you out on his blog after he e-mails you last-minute asking to stay at your place" and "he'll also ask to borrow clothes from you after he shows up later at your door having inexplicably left his carry-on at the office and says he's too tired to go back."

Last time I was saying here, Julieta was in Mexico and the two Shih Tzu's were in Michigan. I'm sitting here playing with the Shih Tzus now. Shih Tzu, it turns out, translates alternatives as "pricey to keep professionally groomed" and "really freaking entertaining little things to have running around." I've thought maybe I could benefit from the structure and responsibility of having something to care for, although before I was thinking more along the lines of getting a plant or adopting a child. But maybe a pair of Shih Tzus is the way to go instead.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


From the NYT:
Tests performed on the cyclist Floyd Landis’s initial urine sample showed that some of the testosterone in his body had come from an external source, and was not naturally produced by his own system, according to a person at the International Cycling Union with knowledge of the results.
If true, that's that. Sorry, Teddy. Sorry, Sister A. I understand if others want to keep riding the Free-Floyd train, but, if true, this would be the station where I get off.

Speaking of being let down, I wanted to believe in a Woody Allen return to form after Match Point--which I highly recommend--but I just saw Scoop--which I don't. I felt like I was five minutes ahead of the plot the entire way, except for a point of confusion toward the end, which was mostly because the part of the plot resolution ultimately makes no sense (sort-of spoiler in white-text, highlight to see: the poisoning and cuff-link that animate the movie's premise end up getting explained with a quick throwaway line that I didn't even understand; if someone else who sees this gets it, feel free to explain to me via e-mail.).